Thousands of primary school children will be invited to join an interactive crime prevention scheme thanks to funding by Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen.
The County Durham and Darlington PCC has agreed to roll out her Commissioner’s Challenge initiative to all 232 primary schools in the force area following a successful pilot in the Ferryhill area.
The Commissioner’s Challenge is an interactive educational project aimed at boosting awareness of the safety risks facing young people.
Since January, 140 children aged nine and ten from five Ferryhill primary schools have taken part in a host of crime prevention activities including litter picking, safe road practices and property marking with UV marker pens, working their way through bronze, silver and gold badges. The aim is to equip them with them with the knowledge they need to make safe choices now and in the future.
The project, developed and delivered by community organisation Approach Too in conjunction with the PCC, is run across three key safety modules: Keeping Our Family, Friends and Neighbours Safe, Keeping Our Streets Safe and Keeping Ourselves Safe.
Following the success of the pilot, the PCC has appointed local charity Durham Agency Against Crime (DAAC) to run the scheme force wide.
DAAC has now employed a full-time coordinator to offer Year 5 pupils in all primary schools a chance to get involved, benefitting around 7,000 students. Upon joining, participants will receive their own personal booklet to complete, a UV pen to security mark their personal items and reward stickers.
Commissioner Allen said: “I am delighted to be launching the Commissioner’s Challenge to all 232 primary schools across County Durham and Darlington.
“What our young community champions in Ferryhill have achieved since joining this project is remarkable. Their confidence has grown immeasurably, and they have enjoyed pushing their comfort barriers and developing their unique leadership styles. Most of all, we have been impressed by the positive interest the young pupils have shown in their community and the world around them.
“Today’s young people will become tomorrow’s community champions, so I am excited to open up this opportunity to many more young people who will help me to deliver safer, stronger and more resilient communities.”
Alongside the Commissioner’s Challenge, the Commissioner has also provided funding to DAAC to roll out of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) education workshops to primary schools across County Durham and Darlington where reports of ASB are highest.
DAAC, which has run the Mini Police scheme for over six years, has a strong history of developing and implementing projects aimed at early intervention, youth development and prevention. It has based its approach on studies that argue that prevention and early intervention is more cost effective than rehabilitation.
The bespoke ASB workshops will be delivered to children aged 10-11 across 72 schools reaching more than 2,000 pupils. They will highlight the effect ASB has on individuals and communities and utilise the skills of apprentice youth workers to deliver a peer-to-peer approach.
Bryan Russell, executive manager of DAAC, said: “We are very grateful the PCC has funded us to deliver these exciting programmes incorporating our unique delivery style as we find the young people engage more positively when they are being educated by other young people who also are positive role models.”